Ferns sending up new shoots in the Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon, November 2020, following the Riverside Fire earlier that fall. USDA Forest Service photo.
Wildfires are a regular occurrence for many western forests, but increases in the size and severity of recent wildfires have led to concerns about long-term forest recovery. It can take decades to centuries for forests to fully recover from a severe fire, but most studies focus on short-term regeneration outcomes.
Northern spotted owl. USDA Forest Service photo by Julie Jenkins.
Some scientific research requires being in the right place at the right time. Missing a window for location- and time-specific research can mean missing out on valuable data needed to make informed land management decisions. For many Forest Service scientists, the global COVID-19 pandemic has presented a novel roadblock to such important work.
New threats from increased area, density and layering of forests, climate change, shifting wildfire regimes, and invasive species in forest landscapes east of the Cascade Range have triggered a need for new management policies. USDA Forest Service photo.
Large and old trees are important landscape elements. Given the complexity of changing climatic and wildfire regimes, as well as social and economic considerations, land managers are evaluating whether protecting many of these critical trees may require moving beyond one-size-fits-all restrictions like the 21-inch rule.
A view from the Buckhorn Wilderness in the Olympic National Forest, Washington. Coastal forests in the Pacific Northwest store globally significant amounts of carbon in trees and soil. USDA Forest Service photo by Matthew Tharp.
Urgency is growing among legislators, conservation organizations, and the wood products industry to better understand how forests store carbon and how management choices affect the carbon balance. The Pacific Northwest Research Station is taking a convening role with states and nongovernmental organizations to address research needs across stewardship boundaries.
Jeffrey pine. USDI Bureau of Land Management photo.
Just as a high or low temperature alerts a doctor to illness in a patient, scientists have developed a method for taking a tree’s temperature to determine drought stress before the tree is showing other visible signs. Using existing Forest Service remote sensors on a fixed wing platform, the newly calibrated and validated approach can detect tree drought stress across swaths of the forest.
A stream in the Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon. USDA Forest Service photo.
A northern spotted owl. USDA Forest Service photo by Damon Lesmeister.
Northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Populations have been monitored since the mid-1980s by using labor intensive mark–recapture methods that require researchers to conduct nocturnal callback surveys and use mice to lure owls for capture and leg-band reading.
A hiker picks huckleberries in the Cascade Range, Washington. USDA Forest Service photo by Becky Kerns.
American Indians may be highly vulnerable to climate change because they disproportionately depend on place-based natural resources and ecosystem services for food, water, medicine, spiritual needs, and cultural identity. Tribal land ownership is irregularly distributed across the Pacific Northwest and some recognized tribes do not have reservations.
Fall Creek Reservoir, Oregon, after the annual autumn short-term drainage in 2016. Photo courtesy of Steve Hamilton, Michigan State University.
Water levels in many reservoirs of the Pacific Northwest are lowered in the fall and winter. However, since 2011, the Falls Creek Reservoir, Oregon, has been annually drained to the streambed to help juvenile salmon migrate out to sea.
Flying northern spotted owl. USDA Forest Service photo by Julie Jenkins.
Northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. They face multiple conservation challenges, including habitat availability and competition from barred owls (Strix varia).